CA Brumbies break Auckland hoodoo

 The CA Brumbies have kept their 2008 Investec Super 14 finals aspirations alive with a 16-11 win over the Blues at Eden Park tonight.

The visitors absorbed early pressure in both halves to record their first win over the Auckland side since 2004 and their first victory at Eden Park since 2001. 
CA Brumbies Head Coach Laurie Fisher said the he was pleased with his side’s ability to bounce back after last week’s loss to the Chiefs.
“The boys worked fantastically this week after the disappointment of last week,” he said. “To be able to turn that around in seven days is a testament to the player group.”
“We’ve had our share of injuries this year and our share of disappointment. If you look at last week’s game we gifted easy points to a good team and had to hard work hard for our own. We were just a lot tidier tonight and we were hard at it. The lesson we learnt here previously was that you’re not going to do anything fancy to win games at Eden Park, you’ve just go tot front up and I thought we fronted up magnificently tonight.”
With a strong pre-match focus on meeting the Blues physically, the back-row combination of George Smith, Mitch Chapman and No.8 Julian Salvi reveled in the confrontation at the breakdown. Smith and Salvi, in his first start at No.8 for the side, were particularly effective in siphoning possession from the ruck with their hard-at-the-ball approach providing countless turnover ball for their side.
The CA Brumbies withstood 10 minutes of sustained Auckland pressure from the outset of the match before a Mitch Chapman bust presented the two-time Super Rugby Champions with their first foray into the Blues’ end and resulted in a 12th minute Stirling Mortlock penalty goal.
Having stolen the ascendancy as the half progressed, the visitors converted the momentum into points in the 31st minute after referee Jonathan Kaplan reversed a free-kick in favour of the CA Brumbies when Blues captain Troy Flavell struck Salvi in a ruck. In the ensuing passage, flyhalf Christian Lealiifano charged onto a blindside pass and sliced between two Blues defenders to touchdown for his first Investec Super 14 try.
A late penalty goal to Blues flyhalf Nick Evans reduced the half-time margin to seven, before another Mortlock penalty seven minutes after the break reinstated the 10-point advantage at 13-3.
Evans and Mark Gerrard traded penalty goals midway through the second term before Blues winger Rudi Wulf got his side to within five points with a try three minutes from full time.
However, the CA Brumbies held on, with a scrum penalty and failed shot at goal on full time sealing the 16-11 result.
The CA Brumbies will return home to take on the undefeated Sharks at Canberra Stadium on Saturday (19 April).
CA Brumbies 16 (Christian Lealiifano try; Stirling Mortlock 1/1 conversions, 2/3 penalty goals, Mark Gerrard 1/2 penalty goal) defeated Blues 11 (Rudi Wulf try; Nick Evans 0/1 conversion, 2/2 penalty goals) at Eden Park, Auckland.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (RSA)
Half time: CA Brumbies 10-3
Crowd: 19,111
CA Brumbies
1. Nic Henderson
2. Saia Faingaa 
3. Guy Shepherdson
4. Alister Campbell
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Mitchell Chapman
7. George Smith
8. Julian Salvi
9. Patrick Phibbs
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Peter Playford
12. Tyrone Smith
13. Stirling Mortlock (c)
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
15. Mark Gerrard
16. John Ulugia
17. Salesi Ma’afu
18. Peter Kimlin 
19. Jone Tawake
20. Joshua Holmes 
21. Matt Toomua 
22. Francis Fainifo
20. Joshua Holmes replaced 9. Patrick Phibbs (61st minute)
17. Salesi Ma’afu replaced 1. Nic Henderson (68th minute)
16. John Ulugia replaced 2. Saia Faingaa (68th minute)
22. Francis Fainifo replaced 13. Stirling Mortlock (69th minute)
18. Peter Kimlin replaced 5. Mark Chisholm (70th minute)
19. Jone Tawake replaced 8. Julian Salvi (77th minute)
1. Tony Woodcock
2. Keven Mealamu
3. John Afoa
4. Anthony Boric
5. Troy Flavell (c)
6. Jerome Kaino
7. Daniel Braid
8. Nick Williams
9. Danny Lee
10. Nick Evans
11. Rudi Wulf
12. Benson Stanley
13. Isaia Toeava
14. Anthony Tuitavake
15. Isa Nacewa
16. Tom McCartney
17. Nick White
18. Bryn Evans
19. Justin Collins
20. Taniela Moa
21. Ben Atiga
22. David Smith
Investec Super 14 Week Nine
CA Brumbies v Sharks
Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Saturday, 19 April 2008